Founder of Society of Speed.
Highly customizable and incredibly efficient, 3D printing has moved beyond simply creating complex three-dimensional shapes. The latest 3D printing technology also allows for it to be successfully integrated with multiple materials simultaneously, from the expected plastics and metals to the more unexpected ones like rubber, chocolate, and even living tissue.
With an ever-expanding list of potential applications, 3D printing has already started transforming some of the largest industries in the world. Here are some of the most unexpected of them.
As the demand for healthy organ transplants far exceeds their availability, doctors have imagined a world where they could create them in labs. While it seems like something from science fiction, regenerative researchers are using this technology to create a wide variety of printed living tissue for use inside a human body. Known as bioprinting, scientists have been developing fully functioning human organs, blood vessels, tissue, bone, and skin.
Bioprinting could have wide-ranging implications for human survival, as it has the propensity to successfully negate medical conditions such as kidney failure, heart attack, arthritis, blindness, and possibly even infertility. Some scientists and doctors are also looking to use the additive style of bioprinting technology to create natural-looking and seamless prosthetic limbs.
Just as VR and AR technologies have changed how we play computer games, 3D printing technology is also being harnessed in other entertainment sectors. Nowhere else is this more evident than the filmmaking industry. Scriptwriters can use it to bring their ideas to life when pitching their concept to studios, or designers can use it later in the process to make props and sets. This technology certainly promises big things for the future production of television and movies.
Not only is 3D printing a cheaper and faster method of creating props from computer-generated images, but the technology also allows designers to create whatever the story requires. That means anything from extremely detailed character costumes to miniature city models or even entire planets and worlds. Rapid prototyping can also be used to create different puppet variations for animation in stop-motion filmmaking.
3D printing applications in construction and architecture have been rapidly developing for many years, and this trend does not seem to be slowing down. While architects have been using technology to create property models for visualizing and testing their design ideas, 3D printing also allows countries such as Australia, where labor is expensive, to manufacture goods at a more competitive price. And the scope of possibilities in construction doesn’t stop there.
The most well-known aspect of this technology is 3D-printed houses which can be constructed in days. This type of additive manufacturing has major implications for the construction industry. Not only due to the speed and accuracy of 3D printing but also because it only costs a fraction of traditional construction methods. This is why 3D printing in construction projects could be used to ultimately end homelessness forever.
One of the more unexpected industries to be disrupted by 3D printing, many fashion industries are already leveraging this technology, from clothing and footwear to jewelry and other accessories. For example, the testing of fashion designs and prototypes has historically been an expensive process, making it inaccessible for anyone but established designers. But now, designers who are just entering the fashion industry can utilize this technology to 3D print their creations.
Despite the current limitations with softer materials, the fashion industry could ultimately use 3D printing to create hybrids with traditional materials for the best of both worlds. But, as the technology can obviously be used to create hardened materials, several big-name shoe brands like Adidas and Reebok, which have already launched initiatives for 3D printing.
As it allows complex objects to be created relatively quickly and cost-effectively, 3D printing is the next step in modernizing classrooms. With the potential to change the conventional approach towards design, 3D printing obviously is being used to prepare students studying engineering and other technical subjects for their future careers. But apart from forging the next generation of design professionals, this technology can also be used to foster creativity and innovation.
3D printing can also help students learn other modalities in almost every other subject in higher education, from art to archaeology and anthropology. Teachers and educators can bring their lessons to life by producing three-dimensional visual aids for hands-on practical engagement that brings the theory into reality. Just imagine how interesting lessons are when students can physically engage with artifact replicas from history. This technology can also be used to create visual aids and other 3D learning materials for medical students and researching scientists.
3D printing has been closing the gap between our wildest imaginations and our reality for the last decade. But while 3D printing is yet to live up to all the hype for consumer products, it’s certainly already thriving in many of the world’s biggest industries. And as long as it continues evolving like this, 3D printing is loos set to change our future reality in a big way.
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